Take Care of Your "Front Yard"

"In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it" - Frank McKinney Hubbard

Photo courtesy of Stewickie via

It’s probably beneficial that I garden in the country with the neighbors close enough, but not too close. I’ve concluded that I could never live in a subdivision because either I would drive the neighbor’s nuts or they would drive me out! I love to have the freedom to plant what I want where I want. It’s tough to keep everyone happy.  I have friends that live in great neighborhoods, but some of their stories about horrid home owners associations give me the chills! Some of the rules are odd and are designed to keep everyone, and every yard, the same with the need to get permission for small changes.  Getting permission to plant a tree or put in a new garden structure would keep any HOA busy and on alert if I lived in the area! 

One trend that is really catching on, but giving some neighbors heart attacks, is front yard gardens.  People are becoming more green and caring more about their environment. They realize that grass is just a huge water sucker and they are replacing yards with drought friendly plants. People in places such as California are being forced to pull out their lawns and replace them. Moreover, people are moving their backyards into the front yard by planting gardens. I’ve seen this movement more in the past few years. People are committed to eating better and demanding organic veggies. They can do this by paying higher food prices or by growing their own food. Many have opted to grow their own and make their gardens a center of attention intermingled with flowers in the front yard. It’s a healthy and proactive trend but not everyone is happy about it – perhaps even you? 

If you have been thinking of joining the front yard garden trend then congrats! Before you kill all your grass you need to check out a few things so that your neighbors don’t riot. First, check with local ordinances to verify that you can plant a front yard garden. Even though it’s your property, there may very well be restrictions. Second, check with your home owners association if you belong to one.  There may be rules against it or you may need permission. Ask first, not dig first. Last, Explain to your immediate neighbors what you are planning to do and why. Don’t surprise them. Offer some of your produce to get their buy in. 
What to consider when you move your backyard garden to your front yard:

  • *      Make it beautiful and incorporate fruits and flowers. Keep it weeded and well groomed.
  • *      Be respectful and don’t keep garden tools and wheelbarrows all over the yard.
  • *      Add some garden art, night lighting, and structures for climbers to grow.
  • *      Have some planted flower containers ready to slip into places where old plants were      pulled or look past their prime.
  • *      Plan for all seasons for your front garden, not just summer. Remember that people like    yards that are easy on their eyes.
  • *      Be courteous and give garden tours to gain buy-in.
  • *      Offer to help others start a front yard garden. Become the neighborhood expert.
  • *      Share share share your bounty.
  • *      Be friendly and positive to those around you. Be prepared to explain and defend your garden decisions.
  • *      Get some local press for your garden or get onto a garden tour to tout your space and gain acceptance.
  •         Be creative, have fun, and make it fun! 

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” - John Le Carre


Just think about the amount of time that you spend at work.  You are most likely in an open environment or collaborative space because it’s the “in” way to work. You likely spend more time at work than at home.  I hate to tell you but some of you are really bad cube mates and slobs. Your area may be messy, stinky, a bit too personalized, and offensive. Your desk/cubical IS your front yard at work.  It’s the first thing that people see (or smell) and it says a lot about you. You really need to think about how it looks to others and how you can reflect “you” without offending your neighbors. Too many of us move our “back yards” to our “front yards” for everyone to see. Just like people who garden in the front yard in all the wrong ways only to anger their neighbors, think about how to BE a good neighbor with your “front” yard.


How to be a great cubical neighbor: 

  • *      Clean your area weekly – with real cleaning spray or soap. Germs are like weeds – keep them out of your “yard”.
  • *      Dump old food and wrappers. Dump your trash too.
  • *      Watch the desk room fresheners or your heavy Old Spice. Not everyone appreciates it.
  • *      Don’t come in sick and cough or sneeze all over. Ewww! No one likes diseased “plants in a yard.
  • *      Keep your piles neat or go green and have none. Be organized.
  • *      Know the preferences of those around you. If you know a clean freak sits next to you go above and beyond your usual cleaning and keep. Things. Neat.
  • *      Help to keep common areas clean and free of clutter or trash. Think of it as a community garden area and do your part to keep it nice.
  • *      Be flexible and open to change or suggestions. Don’t be “that” crabby ornery neighbor over the fence.
  • *      Personize your space but be respectful. My husband has a mechanical talking parrot in his cube that must drive everyone nuts. It squawks and repeats everything. Augh!
  • *      Be a friendly neighbor without being TOO friendly.
  • *      Bring in treats once in a while and be “neighborly. Bring your garden bounty in to share. No one can eat 35 zucchini and 28 tomatoes. Be generous.
  • *      Keep your voice and personal calls down. Some people drone on and on like barking dogs!
  • *      Knock or follow established polite protocols to talk with someone. Don’t just walk into their “yard” unannounced.
So. If you are going to move your “back” yard into the “front” yard, be prepared. Find out the rules, think of those that have to look at your space and live with it as well, and keep it neat and tidy. That’s what good neighbors do! Happy “front yard” gardening! 

Do you have a front yard garden? I would love to hear your thoughts or see your pics!